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What ARE your legal rights in Japan as a foreigner?

bentenmusume

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Petaris said:
It is far more likely that the officer would stop you and ask you to go through the correct gate. We are talking about Japan after all, not Chicago. ;)

Seriously.

misternada said:
Well, let's say you exit by the wrong gate a Shinagawa shinkansen station, the cop on duty will run after you, you'd better run quick because if he catches you he will beat you with his stick ...

Be honest with me. Have you ever seen a Japanese police officer randomly beat a foreigner for a "crime" as insignificant as accidentally going through the wrong train gate? Or how about for any other reason?

As Petaris says, I would suspect a police officer in the US exercising violence (especially against a minority) is a scenario several hundred thousand times more likely than that of a Japanese police officer just laying into a random white dude.

And if you did go out the wrong gate (I would hope by accident and not intentionally), that would mean you didn't pay your fare and, most likely, the gate is beeping loudly, so the suitable response is to apologize and ask where the right gate is, not to run away, for heaven's sake.

No offense, but I would hate to live in your Japan—a joyless world where no one smiles (it's considered "aggressive", after all), people go around all day staring at the ground and doing their best to avoid all social interactions until the day they die and leave "nothing behind", and draconian, violent police officers constantly have their eyes peeled for foreigners committing even the slightest offense so they can mercilessly chase them down and brutally abuse them.

Fortunately, the Japan I live in, at least, is nothing like that.

If your post was supposed to be an attempt at humor, I apologize. I just don't really find it funny. There are people on this forum who have never been to Japan, and who have a genuine interest in the country and culture. There's nothing wrong with being critical of certain parts of Japan and Japanese culture or describing the less pleasant parts of living here (certainly, neither I nor anyone else is trying to say that it's all sunshine and cherry blossoms all the time), but would it hurt to provide a more nuanced perspective rather than resorting to this sort of exaggerated (and, one might argue, outright false and misleading) sensationalism?
 
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mdchachi

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Fortunately, the Japan I live in, at least, is nothing like that.
Obviously you live a sheltered life. I just happened to see this video the other day. Look at what happened to these visitors who were on a Tokyo holiday innocently staying in an AirBnB running around Tokyo doing parkour. A whole squad of police in Tokyo got scrambled after residents saw them and couldn't keep to their own business. They all split up and ran but unfortunately one of them got a caught. As happenstance would have it, it was a black guy. Wait until you hear what they did to him. If you want to skip to the part where he tells what happened, jump ahead until about 9:30.
 

bentenmusume

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Horrifying. Absolutely horrifying.

A letter of apology.

I can only hope that this poor young soul will one day recover from his traumatic run-in with the notoriously brutal Tokyo police.
 

misternada

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@Petaris, sorry did not notice it was an old thread. Still pretty sure the officer will run after you even in 2020 or 2021.. we might see some nice races in Shinagawa next year during the Olympics ! :D
 

mdchachi

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Horrifying. Absolutely horrifying.

A letter of apology.

I can only hope that this poor young soul will one day recover from his traumatic run-in with the notoriously brutal Tokyo police.
Interestingly they had another run-in with the police at the very beginning of the video when they damaged public property. They didn't say what happened. Maybe it was too traumatic to mention. 😄
 

bentenmusume

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Still pretty sure the officer will run after you even in 2020 or 2021.. we might see some nice races in Shinagawa next year during the Olympics ! :D
Yes, the officer (or more likely, a station attendant, because most ticket gates are not guarded by police officers) will flag you down and ask you to go through the proper gate and pay your fare.

(Hell, they probably won't even ask you to write one of those dreaded "letters of apology.")

Seriously, what are you even trying to imply at this point? Do you regularly find yourself going through the wrong gate (not intentionally, I would hope) and running from police officers?

I'm genuinely not seeing the humor here.
 

misternada

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There is a police officer standing on a stool at Shinagawa shinkansen station, a friend told me a long long time ago that he got some kind of discount shinkansen ticket and when he arrived at Shinagawa station they figured out the ticket was not valid and he had to run for his life across the station with the policeman running after him.

Myself I had a similar experience many years ago, I went out of the Shinkansen station through the JR lines gates, but my wife was waiting for me on the other side, I could see her and I decide to cross back the gates, I made a sign to the police guard on his stool, he watched me crossing both gates but when I got out on the other side he got off to catch me and told me what I just did was illegal, I tried with my wife to talk to him but he would not listen, he started holding my arm and calling on his radio, so I figured out I'd better run, I ran at full speed across the station with the cop running behind me, nice sight for the Japanese I guess, just another foreigner breaking the law, then we reached the station entrance and he just stopped there and walk back inside the station like a robot. I just waited at the entrance for my wife to come out walking, did that make sense ? Apparently it does in Japan.

To this day there is a still a police officer standing on a stool at Shinagawa station with his stick, I guess his only role is to run after foreigners who lost their ticket or cannot find their Japan Travel Pass or like me, the ones who went out through the wrong gates.

Anyway maybe it is time, especially with the Olympics coming, to replace the gorilla threatening you with a stick with a nice girl that ask you nicely about your ticket but I guess then it would not be Japan anymore.
 
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bentenmusume

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@misternada

I genuinely don't mean to be rude, but forgive me if I can't quite believe that you (or your friend) are giving us the full story here.

All I have is your version of events to go on, but simply accidentally walking out the wrong train gate is not a "crime," and I find it highly unlikely that an actual police officer would claim it was, or refuse to even listen to someone genuinely trying to explain that it was a mistake.

I've personally witnessed foreigners having trouble with train tickets on countless occasions over the years, and never once have I seen them instantly treated as if they were a dangerous criminal instead of a confused tourist.

That said, while accidentally exiting through the wrong ticket gate isn't a crime, running away without properly paying your fare certainly is, so I have no idea why that would be your first (or second, or third) instinct as to how to resolve the situation.

Again, I'm not trying to suggest that Japanese cops have never acted ****** to foreigners. (I still get pissed thinking about the scattered times I was randomly stopped in a train station or on my bike and asked for my residence card or registration, but even that hasn't happened in about five years, so I'm cautiously optimistic that someone in the system got the message that making non-Japanese people feel like criminals was counterproductive to their goal of encouraging international tourism.)

That said, if you are constantly having these problems with police officers chasing after you, random women panicking and screaming when you walk by, nobody smiling or talking to you, etc. etc., you might want to ask yourself if at least some part of that is a self-fulfilling prophecy based upon your own attitude and actions, rather than just another example of how "the Japanese" are all out to get you.

On the other hand, if not all your experiences are negative ones, and you're just venting your frustrations, then I guess I can understand. In that case, I apologize for mischaracterizing your position.
 

misternada

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It was a long time ago, so I got the story a bit wrong, but I went to the station to welcome my wife she just gave birth in her hometown and was coming back with a baby in her arms, I told her to go out at the JR lines gates as we had to take the JR train to go back home and I came using those lines but she just went out to opposite side, for some reasons the network was not good in that area and the phone would not work well, we start shouting at each other from each side, I wanted her to go to the main gates but she would not understand, the station staff was not around or was busy, the cop on his stool was looking at us, I just made a sign like I was gonna cross the section to get to my wife and he just stared bluntly at me, after I crossed he came to us, we tried to talk to him, to me he looked like he was not listening, he had a blank stare, to me he looked like on some kind of drug, maybe just adrenalin, when the guy start to grab my arm and call on the radio, I just instinctively took off, although he could have easily arrest my wife with the baby in her arms and get my name and address, but he did not, just ran after me, does this story make sense, probably not, but it happened, one of those only in Japan moment.

To me it is the kind of Japanese cop that want to engage in a fight with a foreigner and you are the only thing he sees, does not care if there is Japanese or not with you, you are his main focus and he just want to take you down, like he is in some kind of judo fight, I am not saying all the cops in Japan are like that but I have seen that blank stare a few times and it spells "danger".

Would he have catched me, would I had to pay 200 JPY, 20,000 JPY, beaten up, arrested, deported ? No idea

Will Japan cyber police track me down and arrest me for this 10 years later ? Is there a Japanese SAT team waiting at my door at this very moment ?

Who knows everything is possible in Japan.

Not to say, but I did walk through a train station in Australia and without a ticket, the guy at the gate just told me to tell the guy on the other side it was okay, and they let me go with a smile, I doubt someone could have such an experience in Japan.

I remember there was a nationwide manhunt a few years back when a foreigner escape the Japanese police, I think it was also for a silly thing, will post a link if I can find it.
This story really scared me and I was really sorry for that poor guy.

Also remember what happened to Carlos Ghosn, confronted to the Japanese justice system apparently he also came to the conclusion that running away was his best option.

So my piece of advice is to RUN even if you have done nothing wrong.
 
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misternada

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On the other hand, if not all your experiences are negative ones, and you're just venting your frustrations, then I guess I can understand. In that case, I apologize for mischaracterizing your position.

Of course I had some "Only in Japan" good experiences too, I will tell about them when the occasion arise ;)
 

mdchachi

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Of course I had some "Only in Japan" good experiences too, I will tell about them when the occasion arise ;)
Lol. Why start now?

Did you look at the video I posted? Any thoughts?

I'm trying to wrack my brain about any experiences with the police in Japan. Most of them are benign with me asking for directions at a koban.
One time I got stopped speeding on my motorcycle on a speed trap coming of the Naruto-Oohashi bridge. They put me in their van and the cop was excited that they had a gaijin. Not in a bad way but just in a I-finally-get-to-use-some-English way. It was one of those situations where even though my Japanese was better than his English he insisted on speaking to me in English even though I responded in Japanese. They gave me a ticket and I was on my way. They also called my fiance for whatever reason.
The other notable time was when I hit a lady on my bicycle. I was going quite fast on a downslope and she jaywalked right in front of me. Even though I was more at fault because I was on a bicycle they weren't hard on me, perhaps because I was more injured. Or maybe because the lady didn't pursue it. For that one, after the ambulance ride and getting bandaged up, I was taken to the station to give my version of the chain of events. I don't recall if they gave me a fine or not.
 

okinawaholic

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As a foreigner, you do have the right to have your embassy/consulate notified of your detention (arrested or just being questioned) and it is in your best interest to have them notified. Otherwise you will have no one even remotely on your side during the majority of the process. You do not have the right to a phone call, and the police are under no obligation to notify anyone that they are detaining you (arrested or not) and are similarly under no obligation to even acknowledge that they are holding you should someone contact them and ask if they have you or not.
Would the Consulate/Embassy pass the info on to a NOK/relative?
 

bentenmusume

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misternada said:
To me it is the kind of Japanese cop that want to engage in a fight with a foreigner and you are the only thing he sees, does not care if there is Japanese or not with you, you are his main focus and he just want to take you down, like he is in some kind of judo fight, I am not saying all the cops in Japan are like that but I have seen that blank stare a few times and it spells "danger".

misternada said:
Would he have catched me, would I had to pay 200 JPY, 20,000 JPY, beaten up, arrested, deported ? No idea

Will Japan cyber police track me down and arrest me for this 10 years later ? Is there a Japanese SAT team waiting at my door at this very moment ?

I don't know what to say anymore, other than that I honestly pity you if you've been in Japan as long as you have (I think I recall you saying that you've lived here for over fifteen years) and you walk around every day genuinely thinking that you're in constant danger of getting beat up, arrested, and deported at any moment for something as innocent as accidentally walking through the wrong train gate. Or that every Japanese police officer who looks your way with a less-than-friendly expression wants to "judo fight" you to the death. Or that the Japanese "cyber police" have a file listing all the times every foreigner has jaywalked or spit a piece of gum on the street so they can show up at their door with a SWAT team some day.

Of course the problems with the Japanese legal system are well-documented, and I think many people (myself included) would agree that whether or not he's guilty, what happened with Carlos Ghosn was a disgrace.

But this idea that the Japanese police are out to bust and brutalize every single foreigner here for the slightest offense seems like such a ridiculous exaggeration that I really have no idea how you could honestly come to that conclusion.

misternada said:
Not to say, but I did walk through a train station in Australia and without a ticket, the guy at the gate just told me to tell the guy on the other side it was okay, and they let me go with a smile, I doubt someone could have such an experience in Japan.
One time, a while back, I had gotten off a subway and was standing on the platform when another car came in and a sudden gust of wind blew the ticket out of my hand and down onto the rails out of reach.

I explained the situation to the station attendant in Japanese. He asked me where I boarded the train, I told him, and he told me to be careful next time and waved me through without even asking me to repay my fare.

...No, wait. I must have misremembered the story, since clearly such a normal human response could never happen in Japan.

What I mean to say is that he put his hands over his ears and screamed ノーイングリッシュ!ノーイングッリシュ! and summoned a police offer, who immediately judo tackled and handcuffed me, and threatened to have me deported if didn't do 土下座 in front of him and lick the soles of his shoes.

Yes, that definitely sounds more realistic.
 

misternada

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I sincerely think policemen are the most dangerous individuals for foreigners in Japan.

Have a look at the article below, I am not making this up.


For obstructing o‌ffic‌ers from their official duties, the unnamed foreigner could have received a maximum of three years impris‌onm‌ent or a 500,000 yen fine ($4,400).

Therefore my advice, whatever you are right or wrong, while in Japan don't wait for the police and run to the hills, run for your lives ...
 

Lothor

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You could have at least posted a hyperlink the Iron Maiden song in your last post! I clicked on the bold and nothing happened!
 

Lothor

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Thank you!
Returning to the subject, I've only been stopped by the police three times in 16 years, each time to check that I was the owner of the bike I was in riding or pushing. (The time I was pushing the bike, I'd put it on a trolley because the lock had broken, it looked bloody odd and the police would have been negligent if they hadn't asked me what was going on). Only one of the times was I asked to show my residence card. Other times I've handed wallets into koban or asked for directions and never detected any bad attitude. I also once asked a black friend about his experiences with the police in Japan and he hadn't had any problems either. Nor is the subject of the police ever raised when I meet non-Japanese friends here. I don't doubt that bad foreigner-hating coppers exist or that there's some institutional racism in the force, but a lot of anecdotal evidence suggests that the police are not out to get foreigners.
 
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